It Was Meant To Be. AMTK 161, a P42DC built in May 2001, makes its very first trip up the ex-Southern Pacific coast line since adorning the newest Phase I Anniversary Paint scheme applied to it as part of Amtrak's 50th Anniversary celebrations. Running nearly two hours late, today's Train No. 14, the northbound Coast Starlight, is skirting the Pacific Ocean on its approach to the costal community of Carpenteria as the breathtaking Southern California coast line provides the backdrop, stretching south back to Ventura. Today's specially painted leader on No. 14 was by no means originally in the cards to lead this uncommonly late train in what turned out to be optimal lighting for photos, but two significant situations like to this scene unfolding on a hot, summer afternoon. Beginning the day prior, inbound Train No. 11, the southbound Coast Starlight, developed a mechanical issue that required a Union Pacific unit be borrowed to bring the train south to Los Angeles. Running more than eight hours late, Train No. 11 wouldn't arrive into Los Angeles until 5:02 a.m. This placed Amtrak's Los Angeles yard in a bit of a pickle, because this meant that Train No. 11 could not be serviced during the night and turned into the following day's Train No. 14, which is common practice when these trains are running daily. To combat this situation, the decision was made to use a spare trainset from Train No. 1 that could be readied during the night and keep Train No. 14 close to an on time departure. AMTK 161 was chosen as one of the available units to be used on this new train, which if not already obvious was a delight for many local photographers eager to see this unit lead its first train on the west coast since adorning its unique paint scheme. Having a complete consist ready to roll for the following day's No. 14 was not meant to be, however, as a shortage of available sightseer lounge cars meant that the sightseer lounge off the late Train No. 11 would need to be switched out and placed onto the new Train No. 14 consist. This, along with the fast cleaning and restocking of the lounge, pushed Train No. 14 to depart Los Angeles Union Station one hour late. Not bad, all things considered! Making its way out of Los Angeles, the trip was normal up to Oxnard, where the second situation unfolded. Following the train's departure from Oxnard, it turned out one of the onboard staff who was helping a passenger requiring assistance had accidentally been left behind. This called for No. 14 to cruise into Ventura and roll to a stop at the normally Surfliner-only station here, where the train sat for an additional hour waiting for the standard crew member to be returned to the train. With the crew member back aboard and the drama of the day behind it, No. 14 highballed Ventura just short of 2:00 p.m. and, besides having to slow for some crossings, made tracks up the coast in good order. Those of us who happened to be free this exceedingly warm, June day chose to start our chase of the train on the coast due both to the temperature being well over 100 in the San Fernando Valley and because traffic on U.S. 101 was a nightmare coming up. Traffic didn't stop us from following the train up to Gaviota, however, making the most of the optimal lighting that the lateness of this train provided. When it was all said and done and I looked at this shot today, my first thought after considering all that had happened to this train and the overall chase that lead to this photo was, "Man...this was just meant to be!"